I came across the following sentences:

As usual, these sentences in The New York Times appear; and they appear together numerous others where the same structure occurs: seemed to have [...]ed.

Can someone clarify if this structure is grammatical?

Or should we reword the above sentences replacing the words "to have combined", "to have broken" and "to have detached" with, respectively, "to combine", "to break" and "to detach"?

  • 2
    (1) The structure is grammatical (so is yours, btw). (2) Should it be reworded? Probably not. (Could be, yes; should be, no). (3) This question is similar, and Jimi Oke's answer there might shed some extra light on this. – J.R. Jun 13 '12 at 19:28
  • maybe you expect 'I seem to have ...-ed' ? – Mitch Jun 13 '12 at 19:31
  • Thank you @Mitch for the time you have spent writing your comment, but I was asking for what I asked. Thank you, again. – Elberich Schneider Jun 13 '12 at 20:31
  • @RégisRoux: I realize you wrote your question intentionally about 'I seemed to break', and I was just offering that maybe an alternative is 'I seem to have broken'. I think having both 'seem' and 'break' in the past is simply intensifying things and might be redundant and a style to avoid, but still grammatical. Sorry to not have tried to answer exactly what you are asking. – Mitch Jun 13 '12 at 21:01
  • @J.R. Sorry, I don't see how Oke's answer is related to the question I posted. Thank you for your feedback, anyway. – Elberich Schneider Jun 13 '12 at 21:11

This is a complex topic which Mark Liberman has discussed on Language Log. For what it’s worth, I go along with Geoffrey Pullum’s view that the following are all grammatical, but with the different meanings described in the post:

  1. I would like to know Marilyn.

  2. I would like to have known Marilyn.

  3. I would have liked to know Marilyn.

  4. I would have liked to have known Marilyn.

It follows that the examples you give are also grammatical.



Your query is about Infinitive+past participle, and it is a structure namely Passive Infinitive.


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